After watching many Agile project failures and during most of my adult-software-life you could easily bumped into me saying (with agile critiques link referencing embedded :-)
“Agile can only fit hello- world project scale… It is a bad excuse for weak management, development chaos, poor planning capabilities, lousy communication skills and lazy “we don’t need documentation” programmers – There is no silver bullet for handling software but those agile manifesto guys really found the silver bullet buzzword for making money with the scrum-master for dummies certifications…”
…Then came Scrum by “Natural Selection”:
…So I have evolved by Natural Selection to Agile and I can’t really go back to over-planned fantasy Gantt charts that try to capture every feature in advance and predict we will finish the project exactly in 666 days …
For using all the right buzzwords e.g. Flexibility; Transparency; Short-term predictability; Long term vision ;-)
Scrum provides the mechanism for making the people and process problems apparent so they can be solved – It encompasses almost any good engineering technique; very simple, not overly prescriptive and relatively small set of interrelated practices and rules which can be learned quickly and is able to produce productivity gains almost immediately.
The main reason as I see it now, is that it is extremely simple but very hard to implement successfully* – Mainly because short iteration cycles, rapid changes and transparency brings project management headache and programmer life to extreme optimization while traditional development processes (e.g. waterfall) give you the misleading euphoria** for very long time-frames (e.g. ~666 days in the above example ;-) inside the traditional project lifecycle
e.g. Transparency forces accountability, responsibility, prioritization discussions, trade-offs, and often scope reduction. Scrum requires that managers behave differently than in the past. Instead of reviewing status reports, managers should attend Sprint reviews and retrospectives. Instead of waiting for team members to prepare and present updates, management should go to the project room and see the project’s task board and burn down chart.
Scrum isn’t a silver bullet* but a simple yet powerful encapsulation of Peopleware mindset, project management patterns and development best practices which can put you on a good starting point when you face the software challenge…
* Friendly reminder: no silver bullet in successful software management
** Although I did see few cases where a mixture of skilled project management & legendary engineers have managed to bypass that inherent misleading euphoria while allegedly practicing traditional development process but my claim is that if you look very closely they were actually practicing 90% scrum without even knowing it…